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Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

South

Alabama| Arkansas | florida | Georgia | Kentucky
Louisiana | Mississippi | North Carolina | South Carolina | Tennessee | Virginia

Alabama

Filing deadline: April 4
Primary: June 3
Runoff: July 15

Senate

Incumbent: Jeff Sessions (R)
2nd term (59 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

When State Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks (D) passed on this race in June, Democrats’ hopes of giving Sessions a serious challenge next year appeared to go out the window.

Sparks, who has won two statewide elections and traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over the summer, said he decided not to run because state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D) had expressed an interest in taking on Sessions. But Figures is considered by political insiders to be the weaker candidate, and Sessions is expected to cruise to victory.

Sessions, a former Alabama attorney general, reported he had almost $3.6 million in cash on hand on Sept. 30 after raising $688,000 in the third quarter of this year.

House

2nd district
Open seat: Terry Everett (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

President Bush took 67 percent of the vote in the 2nd district in the 2004 election, and Everett never had any trouble winning re-election to his seat after he won his first race in 1992 with just 49 percent of the vote.

So Republicans say there is little reason to worry about losing this Southeast Alabama seat to the Democrats in 2008.

A slew of Republican state legislators have been mentioned as possible candidates to replace Everett, including state Reps. Greg Wren, David Grimes and Jay Love and state Sens. Harri Anne Smith and Larry Dixon. Dixon lost to Everett in a 1992 GOP primary race for the seat.

Another possible Republican name being floated to replace Everett is George Wallace Jr. The son of the legendary former Democratic governor was the Democratic nominee in the 1992 race against Everett. He lost narrowly and went on to lose his Democratic bid for lieutenant governor in 1998 before switching parties and being elected to the state Public Service Commission as a Republican.

But although Alabama is staunchly Republican territory when it comes to national elections, locally Democrats remain very competitive and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leaders say that the 2nd could be moved into the tossup column with the right candidate. Party leaders have expressed hope that Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright will be their candidate in the race.

This August, Bright, a conservative Democrat who has family ties to the southern part of the district, was elected to his third term as mayor of the state’s second-largest city, garnering more than 58 percent of the vote.

Another high-profile Democratic candidate could be State Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks (D), who has won two state-wide elections and is considered a rising star in the Alabama Democratic Party. But Sparks is much more likely to be eyeing a statewide race in 2010.

Arkansas

Filing deadline: March 10
Primary: May 20
Runoff: June 10

Senate

Incumbent: Mark Pryor (D)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

The only way Pryor’s race turns competitive is in the unlikely event that former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, decides to drop out of the White House contest and challenge the Senator in 2008.

Pryor was sitting on about $3.3 million in his campaign account on Sept. 30.

House

3rd district
John Boozman (R)
4th term (62 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Boozman may be the only Republican in the Arkansas delegation, but he is far from vulnerable.

A Republican has held his northwest Arkansas seat for four decades and even in a 2006, a poor year for the GOP across the country, Boozman still won his third term with almost two-thirds of the vote.

The Boozman family name is well-known in the state due in part to the Congressman’s late brother Fay, who served as a state Senator before running an unsuccessful campaign in 1998 for the open Senate seat that was won by Blanche Lincoln (D).

Since coming to Congress in a 2001 special election after defeating a distant cousin of then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in a run-off, Boozman has been a staunchly conservative voice.

He is expected to cruise to victory in 2008.

Florida

Filing deadline: May 2
Primary: Aug. 26

House

8th district
Incumbent: Ric Keller (R)
4th term (53 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Keller was accustomed to double-digit victories, until businessman Charlie Stuart (D) came within 8 points of unseating him in the previous cycle. Add the fact that President Bush has never taken more than 55 percent of the vote in the district, and Democrats started circling: They smelled blood.

Stuart again is in the race, as is trial attorney Mike Smith (D). But Keller’s more immediate challenge is warding off Todd Long (R), who is attacking the incumbent on his suddenly moderate voting record, which Keller has massaged in recent months to push himself more to the political center.

10th district
Incumbent: Bill Young (R)
19th term (66 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Young, who is approaching 80, is a perpetual object of retirement rumors, but he is keeping his intentions quiet for the time being.

Unlike other Democratic targets in the Sunshine State, Young’s district is only narrowly Republican: President Bush garnered 51 percent in both 2000 and 2004. But for now, with Young sitting tight, only the lawmaker’s wife has expressed her intentions, telling a Florida newspaper in 2005 that she would consider running for the seat if he did not.

State Sen. Charlie Justice (D) also recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss the possibility of running with national party leaders.

If Young decides to leave, this contest immediately moves into the tossup category. Until he discloses his plans, who knows?

13th district
Incumbent: Vern Buchanan (R)
1st term: 50 percent
Outlook: Tossup

Despite the GOP lean of the Sarasota-based district, former bank executive Christine Jennings (D) last year came within 369 votes of besting Buchanan, an automobile dealer who can more than afford another costly House run.

On Election Day 2006, most operatives in both political parties thought Jennings was going to win; Democrats blamed her loss on malfunctioning electronic voting machines, which they say caused 18,000 votes to disappear. A protracted legal battle followed. Jennings had her day in court — and lost — and the House continues to look for the culprit. But Democrats agree that a “smoking gun” is unlikely to be found.

Democratic leaders once entertained thoughts that Buchanan may be removed from office and replaced with Jennings, if clear-cut evidence showed that voting machines malfunctioned. Now, with the Government Accountability Office on the case, conducting a study that could take six months or more to complete, Buchanan’s eviction seems highly unlikely.

But what is certain is a 2008 Jennings-Buchanan rematch. Expect both candidates to again be armed to the hilt. In the previous cycle the duo spent $11 million combined, the most of any House race in country.

16th district
Incumbent: Tim Mahoney (D)
1st term (50 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

Before disgraced ex-Rep. Mark Foley’s (R) infamous instant messages surfaced last fall, Mahoney was just another rich guy about to lose a Congressional race.

But as luck would have it, Foley quit and Mahoney ended up narrowly winning the race against state Rep. Joe Negron (R) who was enlisted to be Foley’s replacement (though Foley’s name remained on the ballot).

Now, Mahoney is on the NRCC’s short list of potential GOP pickup opportunities, a designation that will channel significant Republican cash to the district. Although Negron has passed on another run, state Rep. Gayle Harrell, Palm Beach Gardens Councilman Hal Valeche, Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith, real estate developer Mike Mett and attorney Tom Rooney — who is part of the family that owns the Pittsburgh Steelers — are seeking the GOP nomination.

Harrell, Rooney and Valeche each seem capable of raising a fair amount of money, but Mahoney, wisely, has been very aggressive on the fundraising front. He sat on more than $1 million in cash going into the final quarter of the year.

24th district
Incumbent: Tom Feeney (R)
3rd term (58 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Feeney’s ties to disgraced former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff have drawn a large target on the three-term incumbent’s district. Feeney, who accompanied Abramoff on a golf trip to Scotland in 2003, maintains he did nothing wrong.

Democrats recently recruited former state Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D) to challenge Feeney, whose marginal GOP district, they say, is looking for a change. A Democratic poll out in October reported that less than one quarter of voters wanted to re-elect the incumbent. Because Kosmas is so new to the race, it remains to be seen what kind of candidate she’ll be and how much money she can raise. If she turns out to be a good one, though, Feeney could be in trouble.

Georgia

Filing deadline: May 2
Primary: July 15
Runoff: Aug. 5

Senate

Incumbent: Saxby Chambliss (R)
1st term (53 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

The Democratic primary for the opportunity to challenge Chambliss is shaping up to be a four-way race. Not that it matters.

In a late October poll of 800 likely voters conducted by the Republican firm Strategic Vision, Chambliss held anywhere from a 29-point to 33-point lead over all his various Democratic challengers: Dekalb County CEO Vernon Jones, former TV reporter Dale Cardwell, environmental engineer Rand Knight and military veteran Josh Lanier. The poll had a 3-point margin of error.

According to third-quarter Federal Election Commission reports, Chambliss had almost $4 million in cash on hand and raised $1 million in the third quarter. His closest competitor on the financial front was Jones, who raised just $187,000 in the third quarter and had $266,000 in cash on hand.

Chambliss should have no worries securing a second term.

House

4th district
Incumbent: Hank Johnson (D)
1st term (75 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Johnson may have dodged a tough primary battle in 2008 when former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D), the woman he beat in 2006, registered to vote in California this fall as she appears to prepare for a run at the Green Party presidential nomination.

McKinney was an outspoken and controversial Member who earned the ire of many — both on Capitol Hill and in her district — after she was involved in a highly publicized confrontation with a Capitol Police officer at a security checkpoint in March 2006.

Johnson, who previously served as a DeKalb County commissioner, said he decided to enter the race in 2006 because McKinney was no longer an effective leader for the Atlanta-area district. He was able to garner enough support in a July primary to force McKinney into a runoff, which he won by more than 12,000 votes.

Johnson said in September that he expected McKinney to try to reclaim the seat from him, but the former Congresswoman, who is strongly critical of the current administration, has received encouragement from Green Party officials to switch parties and run for president on their ticket. She has been coy about her intentions but appears, for now, to be moving in that direction.

8th district
Incumbent: Rep. Jim Marshall (D)
3rd term (51 percent)
Outlook: Tossup

After Marshall won re-election by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2006, Republicans have made his conservative district a top target in 2008.

Although former Rep. Mac Collins (R) — whom Marshall beat in 2006 — has still not ruled out another try this cycle, GOP leaders are openly excited about recruiting retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard (R) for the 2008 matchup. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) already has headlined a fundraiser for Goddard, a Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Goddard retired from the military in 2000, at which time he was commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base located in the south-central 8th district. Most of the base’s employees live in the district.

Marshall is a decorated Vietnam veteran as well and he’s proved to be a tough nut for Republicans to crack even in a district that President Bush carried handily in 2004 (61 percent), although district lines were redrawn in 2006.

Marshall is leading the money race, reporting $724,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30 compared with Goddard’s $227,000.

However, Marshall may have another concern in the 2008 contest. Macon Mayor Jack Ellis (D) announced in early October that he was contemplating challenging Marshall in the Democratic primary and criticized Marshall for his conservative votes. If Ellis does enter the race it would be Marshall’s first primary since winning his House seat in 2002.

Marshall is the previous mayor of Macon and he beat Ellis in a 1995 race for the job. Ellis won the seat in 1999.

10th district
Incumbent: Paul Broun (R)
1st term: 50 percent
Outlook: Safe Republican

Broun won a narrow, and surprising, 394-vote victory over former state Sen. Jim Whitehead in a July 17 runoff to fill the seat of the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R), who died Feb. 13 after a battle with lung disease.

Broun, who ran a grass-roots campaign and was based in Athens, was the underdog heading into the runoff after placing second in the open ballot behind Whitehead, whose base was the Augusta area.

Because of the close election, Broun is almost certain to be in a competitive primary in 2008 and state Rep. Barry Fleming (R) already has filed for the race. Fleming, like Norwood, is from Augusta, and regaining the Augusta-based representation is expected to be a strong theme of Fleming’s campaign in the 2008 primary.

Meanwhile, Iraq War veteran Bobby Saxon already is in the race on the Democratic side, but Democrats don’t have much of a chance in this mostly rural and decidedly Republican enclave.

12th district
Incumbent: John Barrow (D)
2nd term (50 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Although Barrow defeated former Rep. Max Burns (R) in both his Congressional elections, he won the 2006 contest by less than 900 votes. That slim margin has Republicans eyeing Barrow’s district as a key pickup opportunity, and the GOP is working to find a top-tier candidate for the race.

But Barrow could get a boost in his third election from the increased turnout that comes with a presidential election year.

The Republican name most mentioned to take on Barrow is orthopedic surgeon and Lt. Col. Wayne Mosley (R), who has served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mosley has earned the Combat Medic Badge and two Army Commendation Medals and is just one of a number of military veterans Republicans are hoping will run for Congress in a year where dissatisfaction with the Iraq War continues to grow.

While the GOP waits for Mosley, Barrow continues to raise money at a steady clip.

Kentucky

Filing deadline: Jan. 29
Primary date: May 20

Senate

Incumbent: Mitch McConnell (R)
4th term (65 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Because McConnell is the Minority Leader, Democrats would love to knock him out of the Senate in 2008, and in recent months both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and outside interest groups have stepped up their attacks against the four-term Senator in radio and television ads.

But until a credible Democratic challenger emerges in the race, McConnell has to be considered a lock for a fifth term.

Perhaps one unintended consequence of all the anti-McConnell noise that has been made since the summer is that the Minority Leader has been raising money at a brisk pace. McConnell took in $1.5 million in the third quarter of 2007 and leads Republican Senators facing re-election with $6.8 million in cash on hand.

Some Democratic operatives have speculated that McConnell is raising large sums of money in the hopes of convincing any potential challenger to sit out a Senate fight for two years until 2010, when the perhaps more vulnerable Sen. Jim Bunning (R) will be up for re- election.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field in the race is expected become clearer after the Nov. 6 statewide elections.

Some names mentioned as possible candidates are Owsley Brown, a former Republican and millionaire businessman whose family name is well-known in the Kentucky liquor business; Crit Luallen, who currently is running for her second term as state auditor; Charlie Owen, another wealthy businessman who is a frequent candidate in Kentucky and former state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, the current candidate for lieutenant governor who narrowly lost to Bunning in 2004.

House

3rd district
Incumbent John Yarmuth (D)
1st term (51 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Yarmuth’s upset victory in the previous cycle over Rep. Anne Northup (R) in this Louisville-based district was one of the early indicators on election night 2006 that a Democratic wave was sweeping the country.

This time around, with the district historically leaning Democratic in presidential elections, another upset victory (this time over Yarmuth) appears unlikely.

And with Democrats having captured several other seats in the 2006 cycle that are in historically Republican territory, national Republican funding resources — which are already limited — are not likely going to be targeted at Yarmuth’s 3rd district.

The Republican candidate in the race right now is Erwin Roberts, a former assistant U.S. attorney and one-time director of the state Office of Homeland Security. The 35-year-old attorney resigned from his position as personnel cabinet secretary for embattled Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) more than a year ago. This fall, Roberts received fundraising support from Northup, who lost to Fletcher in the Republican primary for the gubernatorial seat this spring. But Roberts is still, decidedly, the underdog.

Louisiana

Filing deadline: July 11
Primary: Sept. 6
Runoff: Oct. 4

Senate

Incumbent: Mary Landrieu (D)
2nd term (52 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

As of now, Landrieu presents the only real opportunity for the GOP to pick up a seat in the Senate during a cycle where Republicans in the chamber are mostly playing defense.

Landrieu is expected to face state Treasurer and former Democrat John Kennedy in the race. In October’s election, Kennedy was unopposed in his bid for a third term as state treasurer after switching to the Republican Party earlier in the year. It is widely understood that Kennedy made the switch in order to set up a race against Landrieu, and he is expected to formally enter the contest in the near future.

Interestingly, both Republicans and Democrats are pointing to October’s state constitutional officer elections as evidence that their party will enter the Senate race with the wind at their backs.

In that race, 1st district Rep. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, soundly defeated all challengers to win the governor’s seat in the first round of balloting. But in the same election, Landrieu’s brother, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu (D), won re-election by an even wider margin than Jindal.

Regardless of how Democrats and Republicans have interpreted those results, Mary Landrieu’s close winning percentages in two previous elections (52 percent in 2002 and 46 percent in 1996) and her state’s conservative bent (President Bush carried the Pelican State with 57 percent of the vote in 2004) has put a target on her back. What’s more, Landrieu’s New Orleans base has eroded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

But even during the build-up to the state elections in October, Landrieu was able to raise $857,000 in the third quarter of 2007 and reported $3.3 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

House

1st district
Open seat: Bobby Jindal (R) was elected governor
Outlook: Safe Republican

After Jindal was elected governor in late October, several candidates jumped into the race to become his Congressional successor in this safe Republican district that includes many conservative parishes north of New Orleans and some of the upscale areas just outside the city itself.

Now one of Jindal’s first acts as governor will be to set a special election date in early 2008 to fill his seat.

Former Gov. Dave Treen (R), who also has previously served in the House, has said he plans to run for Jindal’s seat despite being almost 80 years old. In addition, Slidell Mayor Ben Morris (R) also has expressed interest in the race as well as Rep. Steve Scalise, who for a time sought the 1st district seat in 2004. Scalise had more than $100,000 in his campaign account as of Sept. 30. A slew of GOP state legislators also are being mentioned for the job including state Sens. Tom Schedler and Art Lentini and state Rep. Tim Burns. Jefferson Parish Councilor Tom Capella’s (R) name also has been floated.

On the Democratic side, 2006 candidate David Gereighty, who was able to secure only 7 percent in the open race last year, is expected to join the contest. Also, psychologist and professor Gilda Reed (D) is in the race but reported just $12,000 in cash on hand at the end of September.

2nd district
Incumbent: William Jefferson (D)
9th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

While Hurricane Katrina decimated parts of this New Orleans district and wreaked havoc on reliable voter databases, elections since 2005 have show that the 2nd district continues to be a reliably Democratic enclave.

But Jefferson’s re-election is anything but sure because the Congressman remains at the center of an ongoing federal bribery probe.

Jefferson is alleged to have accepted bribes in return for legislative action, but the Congressman has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the case, even after federal agents turned up $90,000 in marked bills in his freezer in 2005. Two men involved in the scandal already have received prison sentences, including a former Jefferson aide.

Despite the media attention surrounding the case in 2006, Jefferson survived his re-election bid. Although he was forced into a runoff, he still won the race handily and will likely do so again unless the case breaks against him or he is forced to resign.

Other Democrats mentioned for the race include New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who became widely known across the country after Hurricane Katrina, state Rep. Karen Carter, and state Sen. Derrick Shepherd. Both Carter and Shepherd ran for the seat in 2006 along with a handful of others.

Mississippi

Filing deadline: Jan. 11
Primary date: March 11
Runoff: April 1

Senate

Incumbent: Thad Cochran (R)
5th term (85 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Democrats can only hope for a retirement announcement from Cochran to have any chance at all of picking up his seat this cycle.

But even then a Democratic victory would be considered a long shot in this very Republican state.

Cochran’s retirement might create an opportunity for former state Attorney General Mike Moore (D). Moore led the legal fight waged by several states against the tobacco industry and helped negotiate a payout worth millions of dollars to several states. It is expected that Moore is one Mississippi Democrat who could raise a lot of money very quickly if he considered a Senate bid.

If he runs again, Cochran, who turns 70 this year, is expected to win his sixth term in a cakewalk.

House

3rd district
Open seat: Chip Pickering (R) is retiring
Outlook: Safe Republican

Just days after his 44th birthday, Pickering announced his decision to retire at the end of the 110th Congress, citing his desire to spend more time with his family.

The surprise announcement from the six-term Member created a rare opening in a state that historically is content to elect its Senators and Representatives for as long as they wish to serve.

National Republican Congressional Committee officials have said that if they have to lose Members to retirement, they’d prefer to lose them in a district like Pickering’s, which is overwhelmingly Republican. The seat favored President Bush by an almost 2-1 margin over Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential election.

Former Rep. Ronnie Shows (D) may be the one man who could make the race interesting for Democrats if he chooses to throw his hat into the ring.

Despite the fact that Mississippi has elections for state offices this year, several names already are being tossed around in what is expected to be a crowded GOP field in 2008.

Rankin County Republican Party Chairman Gregg Harper is one possible contender for the seat along with state Sens. Charlie Ross and Walter Michel. But all those veteran state pols could face a tough challenge from a slew of younger candidates including John Rounsaville, a former official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and one-time aide to both Pickering and Gov. Haley Barbour (R) who already has expressed his interest in the seat; and Whit Hughes, a deputy director with the Mississippi Development Authority who has worked as a fundraiser for both Barbour and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and also was a member of the 1996 Mississippi State University basketball team that went to the NCAA Final Four. Possibly joining them is state Treasurer Tate Reeves (R), 33, who is favored to win a second term on Nov. 6.

And with even more Republicans likely to emerge after November’s election, the scramble for Pickering’s seat is only going to get more intense.

North Carolina

Filing deadline: Feb. 29
Primary: May 6
Runoff: June 24

Senate

Incumbent: Elizabeth Dole (R)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Despite insisting that she may be vulnerable, Democrats have had difficulty recruiting promising candidates to challenge Dole, who saw her party’s Senate majority evaporate last year as chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

So far this year, Rep. Brad Miller and Gov. Mike Easley have both declined Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pleas to challenge Dole. For now, state Sen. Kay Hagan and investment banker Jim Neal make up the Democratic field. Unless they raise a lot of campaign cash in a hurry, they are likely to be regarded as second-tier contenders.

Dole appears to have rebounded slightly in recent months from tough polling that plagued her early in the cycle. In early 2007, a Democratic poll found that only 35 percent of those surveyed said they would definitely vote to re-elect Dole next year, but GOP polls since then suggest that voters, again, may be warming up to her.

House

3rd district
Incumbent: Walter Jones Jr. (R)
7th term (69 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Strong GOP support in Jones’ coastal district is not in question — President Bush took 68 percent of the vote in 2004 and 64 percent in 2000.

But what does pose a significant re-election obstacle for Jones is his about-face on the Iraq War, which he originally supported. Jones’ abrupt transformation from hawk to peacenik has drawn grumbles in the district’s vast GOP base, which has enlisted Onslow County Commissioner Joe McLaughlin (R) as a possible Jones replacement.

While it’s still early, anti-tax crusader the Club for Growth is said to be courting McLaughlin for a possible endorsement, which could bolster the challenger’s campaign war chest and erode Jones’ comfortable $1.9 million-plus fundraising head start.

8th district
Incumbent: Robin Hayes (R)
5th term (50 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Hayes eked out a squeaker last cycle, besting unknown social studies teacher Larry Kissell (D) by fewer than 400 votes. Kissell ran an effective grass-roots campaign focusing on free-trade deals and other hot-button local issues, coming within inches with only 11th hour Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee help.

The DCCC readily admits it goofed last year, misreading polls and underestimating Kissell’s viability. Democrats are now promising that Kissell is their guy next year and are vowing that he’ll have enough cash to again go 12 rounds with Hayes. Kissell, too, caught a break when state Rep. Rick Glazier (D) announced that he would not run in 2008.

But the question remains: Will Kissell’s transition from net-roots darling to DCCC candidate-school graduate wreck his street cred among liberal activists and North Carolina populists?

11th district
Incumbent: Heath Shuler (D)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Leans Democratic

Former star collegiate quarterback Shuler, whose gridiron career turned sour with the Washington Redskins, was a top Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruit in the previous cycle, winning a race epitomizing Congressional GOP headaches nationwide.

So far this cycle Shuler’s biggest asset, minus his meticulously crafted voting record, is his previous opponent, ex-Rep. Charles Taylor (R). The eight-term former lawmaker recently shuttered his campaign committee and ate a $1.5 million debt.

Still, Taylor refuses to rule out a 2008 challenge, keeping some other potential GOP candidates on ice. So far two possible top-tier contenders, state Sen. Tom Apodaca and District Attorney Jeff Hunt already have confirmed that they will not challenge Shuler, leaving Asheville City Councilman Carl Henderson and County GOP Chairman Spence Campbell as the lone Republicans in the race so far.

South Carolina

Filing deadline: March 31
Primary: June 10
Runoff: June 24

Senate

Incumbent: Lindsey Graham (R)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Graham’s compromises on judicial nominations and immigration have miffed the state’s large conservative base, but so far he has not attracted a credible opponent for either the primary or the general election.

Once considered a possible conservative alternative to Graham, state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel (R) was arrested this summer for allegedly distributing cocaine.

Since then, at least two North Carolina county GOP affiliates seriously considered censuring Graham, a symbolic measure, for his perceived soft stance on the 10 million-plus undocumented workers in the United States.

Despite heavy GOP griping, Graham’s significant resources — $4 million-plus — appear to keeping most challengers on the sidelines. Former Rep. Tommy Hartnett (R), Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R) and state Rep. Jeff Duncan (R) are all said to be considering challenges, but none are yet off the ground.

Democrats, too, have talked of stepping up, but so far no serious candidates have come forward. Former Democratic state Chairman Joe Erwin was once considerable a possible candidate but instead has trained his eyes on the governor’s mansion in 2010.

House

4th district
Incumbent: Bob Inglis (R)
2nd term (64 percent, previously served three terms)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Like Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R) in neighboring North Carolina, threats to Inglis’ tenure likely would come from the right. GOP candidates said to be considering a challenge to Inglis, who also served from 1992 to 1998, are Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, state Reps. Harry Cato and Scott Talley and Greenville County Councilman Mark Kingsbury. But as time goes on, a serious primary race seems less and less likely.

Tennessee

Filing deadline: April 3
Primary: Aug. 7

Senate

Incumbent: Lamar Alexander (R)
1st term (54 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

Alexander should have little to worry about in 2008 even if Mike McWherter (D), the son of popular former Gov. Ned McWherter (D), decides to run against him for the seat.

McWherter, 51, an attorney who took over the family liquor business in Jackson after his father was elected governor, formed an exploratory committee in late September and said a decision on the race wouldn’t be far off.

But Alexander, who also served as governor and as secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush, is the hands-down favorite in the race. Alexander raised $675,000 in the third quarter of 2007 and had almost $1.5 million in cash on hand at the end of September. He should cruise to victory.

House

9th district
Incumbent: Steve Cohen (D)
1st term (60 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Last year Cohen became one of the few white Congressmen to represent a majority-black district, and he was able to do so, at least in part, by being the one top-tier white candidate in a primary that split the minority vote among a dozen black candidates.

Currently Cohen has a single primary challenger in attorney Nikki Tinker (D) — a black woman — and some influential black community leaders in Memphis are working to keep it that way because they believe the district should be represented by a black Member of Congress.

Cohen, who once expressed interest in joining the Congressional Black Caucus but backed away from those statements after it became clear that caucus rules made him ineligible, has made a concerted effort to bring CBC members to the district for various town hall meetings and events.

Tinker has yet to receive any support from the CBC, and it’s unknown yet if the group or any of it’s Members are planning to campaign on her behalf or contribute to her campaign.

Since the summer, Cohen has received some $15,000 in contributions from fellow Members, including $4,000 from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). As of their third-quarter Federal Election Commission filings, Tinker had $172,000 in cash on hand and Cohen had $374,000.

Virginia

Filing deadline: April 11
Primary date: June 10

Senate

Open seat: John Warner (R) is retiring
Outlook: Leans Democratic

In what is expected to be one of the most closely watched open-seat battles of the cycle, Democrats are hoping to make a statement in the traditionally red-state of Virginia by taking a second Senate seat after knocking off former Sen. George Allen (R) in 2006 and sending a Democrat to the governor’s mansion for the second straight time in 2005.

Democrats got off to a good start in September when popular former Gov. Mark Warner (D) decided to throw his hat into the ring rather than hold out for another run at the governor’s seat in 2009. Warner is considered a political juggernaut in the state not only because of his high popularity when he left the governor’s office but also because of his deep pockets and established statewide political machine. After announcing his intention to run, Warner reported raising more than $1 million for his campaign in the three weeks before the Sept. 30 Federal Election Commission reporting deadline.

The Republican primary race has been a little more difficult to read.

Although he had indicated for years that he intended to run for the seat if John Warner retired, Rep. Tom Davis (R) passed on the race in late October. Davis said he made his decision because of both his family’s exhaustion with running tough races in two consecutive years — his wife is in the final phases of a tough re-election campaign for her state Senate seat — and his disappointment with the nomination format that state Republicans chose to select their candidate.

Davis’ chances were dealt a blow when state Republicans decided to hold a nominating convention rather than a primary to determine their Senate nominee. As a moderate on social issues, Davis was expected to have a hard time winning a GOP convention, which is dominated by the conservative party faithful.

Davis said that though he thought he could carry a convention, the format would hamstring the GOP nominee in getting an early start at campaigning statewide and building critical name recognition and support among voters.

With Davis’ exit from the race, former Gov. Jim Gilmore becomes the presumed frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination. He too faces a tough challenge against Mark Warner. Polls have shown him losing to Warner by more than 20 points.

House

1st district
Open seat: Jo Ann Davis (R) died Oct. 6
Outlook: Safe Republican

Davis’s two-year battle with breast cancer ended Oct. 6, when she died at her home in Gloucester. At the end of October, Gov. Tim Kaine (D) announced that a special election to fill her seat would be held on Dec. 11.

Republicans are favored to maintain this district, which stretches from the Washington, D.C., exurbs all the way to Newport News, and only the uncertainty of such a quick special election could give Democrats an outside chance of pulling off an upset.

GOP candidates for the seat include Chuck Davis (R), the Congresswoman’s widower and a retired firefighter, state Del. Rob Wittman (R), former Del. Dick Black (R), wealthy businessman Paul Jost and as many as a half-dozen others.

Republicans and Democrats are scheduled to hold their nominating convention on Nov. 10. It is unlikely that Democrats will compete heavily for this seat.

2nd district
Incumbent: Thelma Drake (R)
2nd term (51 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

Even with Drake winning her first re-election bid by less than 5,000 votes in 2006, this district has to be considered a likely Republican win, unless Democrats can entice a top-tier candidate into the race.

The 2006 battle in this district between Drake and Virginia Beach Revenue Commissioner Phil Kellam (D) — who has declined to run again — drew about $3.25 million in independent expenditures (including more than $1 million by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and more than $1.3 million by the National Republican Congressional Committee). And Democrats are hopeful with their significant cash advantage over the NRCC they can take down Drake this time around.

Meanwhile national anti-war interest groups have been making lots of noise in this Southeastern Virginia district, which is home to the largest Naval base in the world at Norfolk. Drake is a staunch supporter of President Bush’s Iraq policies, and over the summer Americans Against Escalation in Iraq included the Congresswoman in its “summer campaign,” staging protests outside her office and even having a volunteer follow her to several events with a video camera.

Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim and state Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner — who ran in the 2nd district in 2000 but lost an open-seat race — are both mentioned as strong Democratic challengers if they decide to run. In her previous race, Wagner managed to garner 48 percent of the vote against Republican Ed Schrock and outraised him by a slim margin.

10th district
Incumbent: Frank Wolf (R)
14th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

It’s round two in the matchup between Georgetown Public Policy Institute Dean Judy Feder (D) and Wolf, a 27-year veteran of the House.

With help from her contacts on Capitol Hill and from her days working in the Clinton administration, Feder raised significant resources in the previous cycle and was able to give Wolf his closest election since 1982, though she still lost the race by about 40,000 votes.

But there is no doubt that this district, which stretches from the expanding suburbs of Washington, D.C., to the Shenandoah Valley, is changing politically, and Democrats say their chances of moving the seat into their column only improve with time. President Bush’s winning percentage in the 10th fell slightly from 2000 to 2004, and Gov. Tim Kaine (D) was able to carry the district in the 2005 gubernatorial contest.

In their most recent campaign filings, Feder led Wolf in cash on hand by about $65,000 after significantly outraising the Congressman in the third quarter.

11th district
Incumbent: Tom Davis (R)
7th term (56 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

After dropping out of the Senate race in late October, Davis said he was not prepared to make a decision on whether to run again in his suburban Washington, D.C., House district.

Davis is a moderate who has shown a willingness to reach across the aisle and received high praise for his efforts to obtain voting rights for the District of Columbia. He certainly would be favored in the race if he ran again, but he is rumored to be contemplating taking a lucrative lobbying job on K Street.

House Democrats have been eagerly waiting for Davis to leave the House because he appeared to have a lock on a seat that would otherwise be considered a battleground district.

As an open race, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the changes in this Fairfax County and Prince William County district, which has only become more ethnically and racially diverse since President Bush won it by a little more than 2,000 votes in 2004.

Democratic candidates include former Rep. Leslie Byrne, who held the seat for one term in the mid-1990s before losing her re-election to Davis. More recently, Byrne ran an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor in 2005. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly, who currently is involved in a re-election campaign, is another strong Democratic candidate mentioned for the race.

There appears to be less activity on the Republican side and it will likely remain that way until Davis officially discloses if he will run for re-election. One notable exception is Keith Fimian, a businessman based in Oakton who reported more than $433,000 in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter, according to his Federal Election Commission filings.

If Davis decides to retire, this will become one of House Democrats’ best pickup opportunities in the nation.

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